Everything you need to know about Disney World's hurricane policy as Idalia approaches

Hurricane Idalia is quickly approaching Florida’s Gulf Coast and many residents are preparing for strong winds and plenty of rain.

On Aug. 29, TODAY’s Al Roker shared the latest updates on the storm, which has officially strengthened into a hurricane. Idalia is currently 85 miles north of the western tip of Cuba with 75 mph winds.

Al said Idalia is expected to become a Category 3 hurricane by the time it makes landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast as early as Wednesday morning. 13 million Floridians are currently under hurricane warning from Tallahassee to Sarasota, and hurricane watches and tropical storm warnings and watches are also in effect.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Franklin, a Category 4 hurricane, is heading toward Bermuda. While Franklin is expected to pass the northwest of Bermuda, a tropical storm watch is in still in effect, according to a public advisory by the National Hurricane Center Aug. 29. The notice also states that "life-threatening surf and rip currents" are already affecting Bermuda and the East Coast of the United States.

The National Hurricane Center described Idalia as a “life-threatening storm surge” in an advisory on Aug. 29.

Many businesses throughout Florida are also preparing for the storm, including Walt Disney World Resort.

Walt Disney World Resort released a statement Monday night on its weather updates page, which includes the latest resort information in the event of a tropical storm, hurricane or other severe weather.

"Walt Disney World Resort is currently operating under normal conditions," the statement reads. "We are closely monitoring the path of the projected weather as we continue to prioritize the safety of our Guests and Cast Members."

The amusement park has not announced plans to close its gates, but the resort does have a hurricane policy in place that will protect its local residents.

In another update, Walt Disney World Communications said that the resort is prepared to "serve as a staging area for storm-related recovery efforts for the state of Florida."

Read on to learn how Walt Disney World Resort handles refunds, rescheduling and fees in the event of a hurricane.

Does Disney World issue refunds in the event of a hurricane?

Typically, Disney World Resort makes exceptions to its standard policy and issues refunds for hurricanes.

If the National Hurricane Center issues a warning for the Orlando area or a visitor’s place of residence within seven days of their “scheduled arrival date,” then they can cancel or reschedule their trip with no penalty.

"At this time, change and cancellation fees imposed by Disney will be waived for check-in dates of August 28, 2023 through September 4, 2023," WDW Communications says. "Guests currently staying at our Disney Resort hotels whose travel plans have been impacted by the storm may receive a discounted rate to extend their stay through the evening of August 31, if needed, by visiting the front desk."

"Florida residents evacuating from the storm and first responders assisting in storm-related recovery efforts may also receive 50% off Disney Resort hotel stays on the evenings of August 29-31, 2023," the company adds. "For evacuees, please call 407-W-DISNEY for details. For first responders, please call 407-828-3200 (Option 3)."

WDW Communications noted that this only applies to new bookings and is based on availability.

How to reschedule a trip?

If visitors want to reschedule an upcoming trip within seven days of a hurricane warning, they can call or go online to change their travel dates. Disneys says it cannot guarantee that the customers will be able to secure similar accommodations for the new trip.

Everything paid for, including rooms, theme park tickets and other services, will be credited toward the new reservations.

“Any discounts or special offers applicable to your original confirmed vacation will not apply to the rescheduled vacation travel dates,” the policy says. “You are responsible for applicable package pricing for the new vacation dates.”

The company notes that this policy does not apply to some special events and dining experiences.

Will customers be responsible for cancellation fees?

If customers are canceling or rescheduling a trip within seven days of a hurricane warning, then they can do so without paying for any fees. However, this policy only applies to visitors who booked their reservations through Disney.

Any customer who made plans using a third-party will have to follow that supplier’s refund policies.

Does Disney World close for hurricanes?

It is very rare for Disney World to entirely close for a storm. Typically, the park stays open while certain rides or attractions will close as the weather requires.

The most recent time the park entirely closed was for Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

Hurricane Irma was only the fifth time the park has been closed since it opened in 1971. It is typically open every day of the year.

NBC News has previously reported that each previous time Disney World was closed was also for an impeding hurricane — Floyd in 1999, Frances in 2004, and Jeanne in 2004.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com